CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS VA'YEIRO 5773 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 2,3: "V'hi'nei shloshoh anoshim, Va'yomer A-DO-NOY" - And behold three men, And he said A-DO-NOY - There is a false theological concept of trinity, that there are three combined spiritual powers/beings that combine into becoming one deity, hence tri-nutty. They bring a proof from these two verses. Three people came in front of Avrohom and he addresses them as one and calls them a-do-noy, one. This cheap bit of theological logic is readily rebutted in numerous ways. How?
2) Ch. 18, v. 4: "V'hisho'anu tachas ho'EITZ" - And repose under the tree - Rashi says "tachas ho'ilon." Sifsei Chachomim explains that Rashi is forewarning that EITZ is actually wood, and thus seems to indicate a tree that was felled. ILON is a live tree. If so, why doesn't the verse say ILON?
3) Ch. 18, v. 9: "A'yei Soroh ishtecho" - Where is Soroh your wife - Why did the angels ask where Soroh was? Is this not contrary to the rule of the gemara Kidushin 70b, that one should not ask about the welfare of a woman even from her husband?
4) Ch. 18, v. 25: "Hashofeit kol ho'oretz lo yaa'seh mishpot" - Would the Judge of all the land not do justice - On a simple level we understand the words "hashofeit kol ho'oretz" in Avrohom's plea to mean that if we were dealing with a small-time judge who does not issue verdicts that are in line with justice, it would not be so startling, as he is not a major judge, and his influence is also limited. However, since Hashem is the Judge over the whole world, His not administering fair rulings is catastrophic. How can we explain these words in a different light and Avrohom's words would have a deeper meaning?
5) Ch. 21, v. 7: "Heinikoh vonim Soroh" - Soroh nursed children - Rashi questions the word "vonim," CHILDREN. Didn't Soroh only nurse one child, her son Yitzchok? Rashi answers that the wives of the guests brought along their young nursing children. These women spoke negatively of Soroh, saying that she was too old to conceive and give birth to a child. No doubt she picked up a waif from the street. To counter this Soroh nursed their children, thus negating their negative assertion. Surely people spoke badly of Soroh before the occasion of this festive meal. If so, why did Soroh wait until now to nurse others' children?
1) If indeed Avrohom was addressing the 3/1 as G-d, why did he offer them/him food?
2) If, as they posit, the three join to become one inseparable unity, how is it that they part, as only two went on to S'dom, "Va'yovo'u shnei ho'anoshim S'domoh" (19:1)?
3) In 18:22 the verse states, "Va'yifnu mishom ho'anoshim va'yeilchu S'domoh," - the people turned away from there and they went to S'dom. They left Avrohom, and yet the verse continues, "v'Avrohom o'denu omeid lifnei Hashem," - and Avrohom was still standing in front of Hashem. If they are G-d Himself and they/he left, how could Avrohom still be standing in front of Hashem? (Rabbeinu Chaim Paltiel)
We might add that this third point explains why the verse says "o'denu," a seemingly superfluous word. We can say that the verse wants to stress this rebuttal, adding that although they left he was STILL in front of Hashem. (Nirreh li)
If we posit that the word ILON is not a Loshon Hakodesh word for a tree, and only EITZ is, as seems to be indicated by the fact that we do not find ILON in Tanach except in one place, Daniel 4:7, where the language used is Aramaic, it is understood why EITZ was used. The word "ho'eiloh" in Breishis 35:4 does not mean a tree, but rather is thename of a specific type of tree. Those who say that "ho'alone" in verse 8 is a tree, again it is the name of a specific type of tree (see Targum Yerushalmi Hasholeim in Chumash Otzar Rishonim). We then would need to understand what Rashi is teaching us, as EITZ also means a live tree.
Perhaps we can say as the Sifsei Chachomim and answer our question with the words of the M.R. 48:10. The M.R. says that in the merit of Avrohom's saying "v'hisho'anu tachas ho'eitz" the bnei Yisroel would later merit to have the mitzvoh of "basukos teishvu shias yomim" (Vayikra 23:42). To allude to this the verse might have specifically used the word EITZ to indicate the mitzvoh of sitting in a sukoh under the covering of wood, and not a live tree, as this would invalidate the sukoh. Rabbi Shmuel of Sanot goes so far as to say that Avrohom actually built his guests a sukoh to protect them from the direct heat of the sun.
Alternatively, Hadar Z'keinim says on the words "v'hu omeid a'lei'hem tachas ho'eitz" (verse 8), that Avrohom stood above them IN PLACE OF a tree, i.e. Avrohom used his body to block the sun and cast a shadow upon his three guests. If we say that Avrohom had this in mind in our verse, he used the word EITZ to connote a non-growing from the ground tree to indicate that he would be the tree.
1) When a group of people ask it is permitted. Here all three asked. (Rabbeinu Menachem)
2) They intended to let Soroh know that she would bear a child. This would bring her to give thanks to Hashem. (Sforno)
3) It is only prohibited when sent in written form, but when verbally through her husband it is permitted. This answers the seeming contradiction to the above gemara from B.M. 87a that says that through her husband is permitted. (Rabbeinu Avigdor of Tzrofas)
4) It is only prohibited to send well-wishes, but to ask about her welfare is permitted. (Rabbeinu Avigdor of Tzrofas)
5) It is prohibited because there is a fear that it can bring to intimacy. There is no such fear with angels. (Paa'nei'ach Rozo)
6) Indeed, they behaved improperly. (Rabbi Shmuel of Sanot)
7) They only asked where she was. This is permitted. (Tur)
8) They were angels and really knew where she was. They only used this as an opener to their conversation, as we find that Hashem said "a'yekoh" to Odom (Breishis 3:9). (Rashbam)
9) Because their report was a prophecy, it is appropriate to tell it to whom it impacts, so that that person may endeavor to do his part to bring it to fruition. (Ralbag)
10) They knew that she regularly greeted guests. Since this was a departure from her normal behaviour, they inquisitively asked where she was. (Rabbeinu Efrayim)
11) Because they did not see her they feared that she might not be well. They therefore asked for her so that they might be able to affect a cure. (Abarbenel)
The mishnoh R.H. 4:2, gemara 16a, says that all living creatures pass in judgment in front of Hashem like "bnei Morone." The gemara 18a explains that this means that they pass in single file. Rabbi Yochonon adds that even though they pass in single file, all are scanned in one go, "kulom niskorim biskiroh achas". Rabbi Ovadioh of Bartenura in his commentary on the mishnoh quotes the Rambam, who says that to grasp the answer to this seeming contradiction requires very deep understanding.
Three explanations follow:
1) Based on the concept that a person is not only held responsible for his direct actions, but also for all repercussions that come out of them, each person Is individually judged for his actions, but at the same time is also judged for all future effects brought about by his actions. This calculation is called "skiroh achas." (Rabbi Eliyohu Lopian)
Some say that this calculation only takes place at the end of days, when all repercussions down until the last generation have taken place. This day is called "yom hadin hagodol v'hanoroh," the day of the great and awesome judgment.
2) Based on the concept that Hashem's judgment takes into account not only the defendant, but also all who would be affected, i.e. if a person deserves to be incarcerated for a year, his wife and children, who are totally innocent, suffer the anguish of being without a husband and a father. This is not taken into account by a flesh and blood judge, but Hashem does take this into account. This is the intention of the verse, "Keil emunoh v'ein o'vel tzadik v'yoshor hu" (Dvorim 32:4, see Rashi d.h. "tzadik" who writes that ALL accept His judgment as fair). This calculation of taking into account all of those who might be affected is called "skiroh achas." (Kelmer Mashgiach)
3) Based on an insight into Rashi on parshas Noach where the verse states that Noach was a righteous man "in his generations" (Breishis 6:9) where Rashi says that this can be understood in two ways; either that Noach was righteous to a certain level in his generation, and because of that generation he was limited to a certain level, as he was drawn down by his environment's negative influence, and had he lived in the generation of our patriarch Avrohom, he would have been strongly influenced for the better, and would have been much greater, or that he was only considered a righteous person of note in his generation, as almost all others were lowly, and had he lived in the generation of Avrohom, who was very righteous, Noach's level would have paled in comparison.
Numerous commentators say that there is no disagreement between these two explanations as to Noach's level of righteousness. Rather, they only disagree what the verse is stressing. All agree that to be a worthy person, Noach would have to be greater if he was exposed to Avrohom, and less worthy when actually compared to those among whom he lived. This is because one is strongly influenced by his surroundings, being drawn downwards by lowly people, and propelled upward when in the company of lofty people, as per the Rambam hilchos dei'ose 6:1, who exhorts us to live among worthy spiritual people, and not among lowly, negative people.
Thus it is only fair to judge a person by taking into consideration his environment, not just his actions. This is the meaning of judging each person individually, taking into account his personal actions, "kivnei Morone," while at the same time taking into account the actions of all those around him, "biskiroh achas," to fairly decide what can be expected of a person living in such a spiritual climate. (Rabbi Simchoh Wasserman)
Given any of these three explanations of "skiroh achas," Hashem judges the "whole world" each time He judges an individual. How ironic it would be to have the "shofeit KOL HO'ORETZ" not judging fairly. (Nirreh li)
The Ramban in hilchos ishus 21:12 writes that if a woman offers to nurse her acquaintance's son along with her own child, her husband may insist that she not do so, as she might not have sufficient milk for his child. Therefore Soroh on her own never offered to nurse someone else's child. However, this was the day that Yitzchok was weaned, "Vayigdal ha'yeled va'yigomal" (verse 8), so there was no reason to not nurse someone else's child. (Rabbi Chaim Brisker)
A GUTTEN SHABBOS KODESH. FEEL FREE TO DISTRIBUTE BY COPY OR ELECTRONICALLY.
FEEDBACK IS APPRECIATED. TO SUBSCRIBE, KINDLY SEND REQUEST TO: SHOLOM613@ROGERS.COM
See also Sedrah Selections, Oroh
V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights